Punctum/Poetry Online

“A photograph’s punctum is that accident of photographic detail which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)...for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole…”
~ Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

As the premier exhibit in MOHAI's new Linda and Ted Johnson Family Community Gallery, MOHAI teamed up with Seattle's largest nonprofit arts education organization, Arts Corps, for a truly unique exhibit showcasing youth art and expression.

Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, MOHAI and Arts Corps brought teaching artist Roberto Ascalon into classrooms in Seattle’s Cleveland and West Seattle High Schools. During each 10-week residency Alscalon helped students explore photographs from MOHAI's historic photo archive and worked with them to bring the photos to life through the expressive power of spoken word and poetry. Students were engaged in an introduction to the basics and history of photography, writing-while-looking exercises, collecting personal histories, and in-depth writing and editing of final pieces.

The resulting work is the Punctum/Poetry exhibit, which showcases the final art pieces produced by these students. A counterpoint to the bustle of the rest of the museum, the quiet exhibit encourages visitors to truly engage with the students and their work through biographic panels of poems and pictures along with audio recordings of the poems spoken by the students themselves and their peers. The exhibit is open to the public and on display through May 27, 2013.

The Linda and Ted Johnson Family Community Gallery is a new gallery designed to promote community ownership and stewardship of MOHAI. The gallery features rotating exhibits that share the diverse voices and stories of the Puget Sound region. The gallery particularly focuses on youth in order to build meaningful, lasting relationships with Seattle’s young people through creative reflection on historic topics.

The Process

Roberto Ascalon and MOHAI staff lead a series of sessions working with students on how to express themselves through poetry and spoken word. Photos courtesy of Susie Fitzhugh.

The Poems

Listen to students' spoken poetry created during the 10-week residencies. View all on YouTube.

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